If you have ever been in an accident, had your car repaired by a body shop, and still felt something was wrong with your car, you might be right. Many cars in accidents have bent frames that were undetected or improperly repaired at that body shop.
The car may not drive straight, feel crooked, or pull to one side or another. Other car owners complain the car “just doesn’t feel right anymore.” Some of the reason for this is that most body shops are not experts at frame straightening. Today, some have frame straightening services in house, but their lack of experience or lack of the right equipment produces a poor result for your car.
Many body shops bring their cars to our company for frame straightening services instead of doing it in house. Still, many of them do the repairs out of sequence which may result in improper frame straightening for your vehicle.
“In a perfect world a car involved in an accident should start here first” says Jim Gougeon, owner of Valley Pacific Frame & Suspension. “Here’s why. Some repairs due to a collision have frame damage. Body shops usually know this and take steps to repair the frame. The problem with too many body shops is they just R and R (Remove and Replace) parts. These parts are put onto a bent frame and then brought to the frame straightening company or department. Then to properly straighten the frame, those parts need to be removed, the frame straightened, then replaced. Obviously, this is out of order and it is more expensive for the insurance company and the consumer.”
“Something more” Jim continues “very often the frame straightening job is done improperly because it wasn’t addressed first.” Jim says that he recognizes that it isn’t a perfect world and body shops usually get the car first and try their best to fix the car in-house. But, he feels the car-owners and the insurance companies are better served by starting out here.
Another important issue that can cause your car to feel “out of sorts” is the quality of the work performed on the car after the collision. Many body shops have purchased equipment and trained employees to straighten vehicle frames. However, they are not experienced experts and this can make a real, tangible difference in the result of the frame’s alignment.
Valley Pacific Frame & Suspension has many body shops from all over the San Fernando Valley that bring their customers’ vehicles here for frame straightening. They do this because they know there is a difference between a real professional with substantial experience and what they can do in house.
However, many body shops don’t do this. They try to straighten the frame in house and their results are too often poor. When you, the car owner, get the car back everything seems to be fine until you get out onto some roadways. Freeways, long straight roadways and roads with curved in the center that drops off on both sides (for proper rain drainage) may illuminate the poor result. Often many car owners return the car to the body shop and just say “It just doesn’t feel right anymore, it’s not like it was before the accident.”
A company with the right equipment, very experienced personnel and a dedication to perfect results is what a car needs when it has a bent frame due to a collision.
Jim says “We can fix about 90% of the vehicles that come in here back to original condition where the car feels like brand new. The other 10% may simply be too damaged for a repair. In recent years, we’ve even seen the insurance company paying for brand new frames on newer, more expensive vehicles because the cost of a new frame is small in comparison to “total loss” on the car.”
– Jim Gougeon is the owner of Valley Pacific Frame and Suspension. The shop has been in Canoga Park for 40 years and serves numerous high profile dealerships in the San Fernando Valley, as well as numerous auto body/Collision shops throughout the area. Many car owners come to our shop first after a collision because they have experienced the above scenarios previously and feel it is much wiser to start with a straightened frame, then go to the body shop.